The Gourmet Jewish Cookbook by Judy Zeidler

With the first day of Hannukah falling on Thanksgiving, I thought I would review this Jewish cookbook and post a recipe for potato latkes (pancakes). The Internet has a website for a made-up holiday called Thanksgivakkah, so potato latkes at Thanksgiving may start a new tradition!

When I first became a vegetarian in the mid 1970s, I owned a couple of Jewish cookbooks. They came in handy because they follow Jewish dietary laws that keep meat and dairy items separate. Thus, each cookbook had a section on vegetables and side dishes that could be used with either a dairy or meat meal. Also, as a vegetarian, I began to explore ethnic cookbooks, which also have many dishes that don’t have meat. So my recipe  repertoire expanded to include Asian stir fries, Mexican tacos, Indian dishes with curry, etc.

What I like about Judy Zeidler’s book is that she has both the traditional Jewish holiday recipes in Part One and international recipes for entertaining in Part Two. Her dishes include foods from Mexico, China, France, Italy, Brazil, Morocco, Israel and Scandinavia. Not all of these are meatless, but there are enough for me to make good choices for my meatless meals.

Because the author likes to entertain, her preface includes a step-by-step plan for entertaining, as well tips and techniques and a wine lover’s guide. She’s got it all covered!

With Hanukkah right around the corner, I thought I would include one of her recipes. Actually, she has several latke recipes: Apple Dessert Latkes, Cheese Latkes with Port Wine Sauce, Classic Potato Latkes, Food Processor Latkes, Raised Potato Latkes, Salmon Latkes, Sesame-Potato Latkes, Sweet Potato Latkes, and Zucchin & Cheese Latkes. SInce there are 8 nights of Hannukah, you could try a different recipe each night and have one leftover as a bonus recipe. I choose the Food Processor recipe, since that is what we use to make our recipe at home.

If you Google the title of the book, you will get several hits about the author and her books. My version is from 1988, published by William Morrow and Co., New York and my copy says $15, but that may not be correct now. You need to look at the Internet for the current range of prices.

Food Processor Potato Latkes

4 potatoes
1 onion, quartered
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil

Cut the potatoes to fit the feed tube of a processor. Grate them, using very light pressure.
Place the potatoes in a colander and rinse under cold water to remove the starch and to keep them from turning dark.
Grate the onion in the processor. Leaving the onion in the bowl, insert the steel blade in the processor.
Add the grated potatoes, eggs, flour, and baking powder. Pulse themachine briefly, a few times, until mixed.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large heavy skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil. With a tablespoon, spoon the potato mixture into the hot oil and flatten the latkes. Brown well on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Makes about 3 dozen potato latkes.

Note: On the previous page of this recipe are helpful hints for making better latkes, such as making them as close to serving time as possible, preparing the onions before the potatoes, and frying in very hot oil turning only once for crispy latkes. Zeidfler also includes hints for freezing and refrigerating the batter til needed.

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